11,040,632 chances to help
During the 2008-09 academic year, Princeton students printed 11,040,632 sheets of paper on the OIT and Library cluster printers. That's enough to stretch from Princeton to Salt Lake City. Every two years, Princeton students print out enough paper to blanket the 300 acres of Lake Carnegie from shore to shore, end-to-end.
You can see how many pages have been printed so far this year on the OIT and Library cluster printers, and how many pages you yourself have printed, by visiting the Printer Management website.
Printing on campus has increased in the past several years. How does using this much paper affect the environment? Do we really need to print out quite so much?
Since 2004, Princeton has been using only 100% post-consumer-waste (PCW) recycled paper for standard office needs, which includes all printing in the computer clusters and libraries. In 2007-2008, this measure alone saved 1,428 trees' worth of paper. However, recycled paper is not a panacea: its production still consumes precious energy resources and creates waste water and greenhouse gases.
It is up to us, the Princeton University community, to take the next step on the path to environmental sustainability. This website provides tips and suggestions to help you reduce the amount of paper you consume through printing every day. By working together to reduce our environmental impact, we can support our greater goal of Princeton in the Nation’s Service, and in the Service of All Nations.
Why you should help: some perspectives on paper use
If stretched end-to-end, 11,040,632 sheets of paper would stretch for 10,120,579 feet, which is 1,917 miles (3085 km). This distance is nearly three-quarters the width of the United States.
Bill Burke ’91 holds Princeton’s 1-mile indoor track record. He can run a mile in 3 minutes and 58.7 seconds. If he could run continuously at that pace, it would take him more than five days to run the entire length of printed paper.
A ream of paper sits approximately two inches tall and contains 500 sheets of paper. This much paper would be 3,680 feet tall when stacked. By comparison, the tallest structures in the world are only about 2,000 feet tall. If we took these printouts and split them into seventeen stacks, each stack would still be taller than the 14-story Fine Hall building.
We could cover 165 acres with these printouts, which means that with four years' worth of printouts, we could cover the entire Princeton campus, including Lake Carnegie.
The environmental impact of this much printing is mostly due to the costs of producing the paper, in proportion to the weight of the paper produced. 400 reams of paper weigh one ton, and each ream contains 500 sheets. Last year, our printouts from the clusters and libraries weighed more than 55 tons.
The manufacturing process for this paper required 1,198 million BTU's of energy. That's enough energy to power thirteen homes for a year.
Manufacturing paper also creates waste water when the mashed wet pulp is dried into sheets. Producing this much paper results in approximately 572,550 gallons of wastewater, nearly enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool.
Finally, producing this paper released 188,920 lbs CO2 equivalents of greenhouse gases, comparable to the output of seventeen cars for a year.
By using 100% post-consumer waste paper for this printing, Princeton saved 1,428 additional trees from being harvested, or 204 tons of wood in terms of weight.
But this was only 20% of all the University's paper needs!
During 2007-2008, the University purchased a total of 53,279,500 sheets of paper — more than enough to blanket the entire campus, build 85 stacks taller than Fine Hall, or encircle the Earth every three years. Only 68% of that total was 100% PCW recycled paper. The rest, used for stationery, signs, posters, and so forth, also required trees to be chopped down.
Can our community truly afford to use that much paper every year? You do the math.
University paper usage statistics tallied from OIT and Library cluster printer engine and Uniprint counts. Uniprint system instituted FY08; library printer tally data not available prior to FY08. Additional sources:  Lake Carnegie area estimated at 300 acres in Historical Photograph Collection AC605 finding aid, Seeley J. Mudd Manuscript Library.  Burke track record documented in "Breaking 4:00", Princeton Alumni Weekly, May 14, 2008.  Environmental impact estimates made in February 2010 based on 55.2 ton paper usage using the Environmental Defense Fund Paper Calculator.